Morality and Disappointment: Two Themes Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Traditions and traditional ways of doing things are considered good or moral, while modern times are considered worse than the past and immoral. At the end of the short story, it is the grandmother who is continually insisting that "The Misfit" is actually good inside, begging for him to find his own sense of morality.

"Araby," however, offers an almost opposite view of morality. While readers of "A Good Man is Hard To Find" are barraged with the grandmother's ideas of morality and instructions on how to be more moral, the main character in "Araby" practices an internal monitoring of his morality. For instance, the main character assesses the Priest who lived in the family's home as a tenant, thinking him generous because he gave away all of his possessions upon his death. Further, at the end of the story, the main character has the chance to evaluate his own morality again. Up until the end of the story, Managan's sister, the woman that he is infatuated with, has been consuming his thoughts, becoming his only morality. He thinks, speaks, and acts only for her. At the end of the story, when he is disenchanted with the bizarre, Araby, he evaluates his own morality and feels vane, his eyes "burn[ing] with anguish and anger" (Joyce 289). Thus, the main characters in these two stories are very different when it comes to morality, despite the fact that both stories discuss morality and even Christian morality. In "A Good Man is Hard to Find," it is the grandmother who preaches her morality of the past and Protestantism to anyone who will listen. In "Araby," however, the main character chooses his morality through introspection and evaluation.

In addition to the theme of morality, both "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and "Araby" share themes of disappointment. Both O'Connor's traveling family in "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and the unnamed main character in Joyce's "Araby" suffer disappointment at the end of the stories. For O'Connor's family, the disappointment is severe and shocking; they are killed. The grandmother is the one who is most seriously disappointed, as she witnesses her inability to persuade The Misfit to be good before she is disappointed by the death of her family and herself. The main character in "Araby," on the other hand, is disappointed by himself, and his childish notions of the bazaar and love. Imagining the bazaar to be a wonderfully romantic place, he is disappointed when he finds that it is filled with greed and less than idealized events. He is also disappointed when he realizes his imaginary affair with Managan's sister is, indeed, imaginary, something that Joyce implies the main character discovers while at the bazaar. Thus, disappointment is a major theme of both stories that becomes apparent at the end of the stories.

Still, the two stories share great differences considering the theme of disappointment. In "A Good Man is Hard To Find," O'Connor implies that the disappointment is something that cannot be used in a productive manner. All of the story's protagonists are dead; nothing positive remains. Not even the Misfit, who has regarded the grandmother's suggestion that he can be good, can grow from the event. In "Araby," however, the main character simply learns a fact of life, something that almost everyone learns during childhood or adolescence. He realizes that the real world is not always as romantic as the idealized notions he has had in his play. Although he is disappointed at the end of the story, Joyce implies that the character can learn from this, avoiding false disappointment in the future, and perhaps even making a better life for himself.

Thus, although they are written by very different authors about different subjects, both O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and Joyce's "Araby" share similar themes of morality and disappointment. Within those themes, however, the two stories are both similar and different. A comparison of the story, then, allows readers to make grand assumptions about what the author may have been trying to imply through the stories. Perhaps the comparison of these two works suggests that O'Connor embraced the absence of…

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